Posts Tagged ‘Watco Companies’

More Potatoes Coming to ‘Salad Shooter’

September 14, 2017

The westbound Cold Connect train passes through Conneaut on CSX rails.

One of CSX’s most distinct trains may be adding some more business.

Dubbed by some railroad crew members and railfans as the “salad shooter,” the dedicated train of perishables from the West Coast has been seeing its business grow.

Union Pacific and the East Idaho Railroad (owned by Watco Companies) are upgrading facilities used to move Idaho potatoes to eastern markets.

The East Idaho has seen an 18 percent growth in potato shipments this year and is leasing 20 refrigerated cars that will be outfitted with special racks and rollers to help move the produce.

Officially known as Cold Connect – a name change from the Food Train – the service begins on UP in Wallaula, Washington, with refrigerated cars of produce.

The train picks up the potatoes from the East Idaho in Pocatello, Idaho. UP interchanges the train to CSX at Chicago where the cars are transported to Syracuse, New York, and Rotterdam, New York.

The planned improvements in Idaho are designed to make Cold Connect more competitive with trucking and enable the service to increase in operations to four or five trains per week.

Some cars are being interchanged to Norfolk Southern in Chicago and routed to other destinations.


NS to Have Loco at Toledo Train Day Event

May 3, 2017

The organizers of the Toledo National Train Day festival have confirmed that a Norfolk Southern locomotive will be on display on Saturday, but it is not clear yet if it will be a heritage unit, tribute unit or just a work-a-day locomotive.

What is certain is that Amtrak will not have any equipment at Toledo Central Union Terminal for the 10th edition of the event.

Amtrak last year announced it would no longer support National Train Day, but did send Phase I livery P42DC heritage locomotive No. 156 to the event along with a baggage car, Viewliner sleeper, café car and an Amfleet coach.

Watco Companies has agreed to display its Ann Arbor heritage unit at the festival.

Also present at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza, as the station is now called will be exhibits and programming that will include track car rides, operating model-train layouts, and a drawing for free Amtrak tickets aboard the Lake Shore Limited to a destination east of Toledo.

There are expected to be five model-train layouts and various vendors in the station’s former main concourse.

Operation Lifesaver will sponsor children’s rail-safety workshops and Boy Scouts who pre-register can participate in a railroading merit badge workshop.

Local food trucks and vendors will be on hand selling their wares.

The track car rides are being offered by the Ohio Valley Railcar organization.

The hours of the free event are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station at 415 Emerald Ave. Scheduled speakers during the opening ceremony will include:

  • Peter LeCody, chairman of the board for the National Association of Railroad Passengers in Washington.
  • Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago.
  • Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio.
  • Eric Thurlow, commercial manager of the Watco/​Ann Arbor Railroad.
  • Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
  • Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi.

Following the opening ceremony there will be roundtable discussion featuring many of the speakers.

Toledo National Train Day Set for May 6

April 12, 2017

Toledo still plans to hold a National Train Day this year, although it will not apparently have the headliner external exhibits that it has had in the past.

The event will be held on May 6 at the former Central Union Terminal – now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza – between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Thus far the only announced railroad exhibit will be Ann Arbor Railroad GP38 No. 3879.

Built in 1969, the locomotive has been painted in a commemorative livery to honor the history of the Ann Arbor, which is now a Watco Companies property.

This year’s event will be the 10th National Train Day celebration in Toledo.

Past events have featured heritage and special livery locomotives of Norfolk Southern as well as an Amtrak exhibit train.

It is not clear yet if either NS or Amtrak will be participating in the event.

The event’s sponsors say on their Facebook page that as in past years the festival will feature vendors, model railroad displays, children’s train rides, a safety workshop oriented to children, food and train watching of the nearby NS Chicago Line from the Amtrak station platforms.

Watco Acquires Cincinnati River Terminal

November 11, 2016

Watco Companies will buy 20 bulk terminal operations from Kinder Morgan.

WatcoThe facilities will include the Cincinnati Bulk/Liquids terminal on the Ohio River.

In a news release Watco said that the locations it is acquiring include rail/truck terminals and deep water locations that are focused on dry and break bulk industries handling a diverse mix of commodities including fertilizer, ferro alloys, salt, coal, and various break-bulk products.

“The Watco Team is excited to continue expanding our waterways presence,” said Watco’s Senior Vice President of Network Strategy Will Patterson in a statement. “We have identified many opportunities to expand our terminal operations and rail presence with these new sites and look forward to further developing operations with our customers.”

Also included in the transaction will be the Grand Rivers terminal in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and the Owensboro Gateway Terminal in East Hawesville, Kentucky.

STB Favors Michigan Short-line Over CSX in Dispute About Trackage Rights in Grand Rapids

November 5, 2016

A Michigan short-line railroad has received approval from the Surface Transportation Board to operate on three miles of CSX track in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

STBThe STB granted a request by the Grand Elk Railroad to use the track, but left it up to a Michigan court to determine the railroad’s contractual rights before it can resume serving customers.

The decision was a rejection of a CSX bid to prohibit the Grand Elk from using the trackage rights originally granted to Norfolk Southern but which were omitted from the Grand Elk’s lease agreement with NS to operate a former Pennsylvania Railroad route from Grand Rapids to Elkhart, Indiana.

Grand Elk has been using the CSX line until it was abruptly banned last August.

Grand Elk, a Watco company, said the trackage rights over the CSX line in question were inadvertently left out of its lease agreement with NS.

“The STB gave us the green light. The decision was promising as far as it goes, but it did not rule on the assignment of rights,” said Robert A. Wimbish, Grand Elk’s attorney.

A judge in Kent County, Michigan, will determine if as a matter of state law, the assignment of trackage rights on the Grand Rapids Track from NS to Grand Elk is valid and enforceable.

KRR Coal Traffic Has Exceeded Expectations

August 26, 2016

An executive with Watco Companies said that it underestimated the demand for Appalachian coal when it launched the Kanawha River Railroad.

Kanawha River RailroadA month after the KRR began using the former West Virginia Secondary and Princeton-Deepwater District of Norfolk Southern, it has been running coal trains almost daily.

“Coal traffic is more than we anticipated — the domestic utility coal is up right now,” Kanawha River Railroad General Manager Derrick Jackson told Trains magazine.

As a result, the KRR has acquired additional locomotives and hired more employees for train and engine service.

The KRR has leased 10 NS SD60s and has its own fleet of three SD40-2s and four GP39-2s that are used to handle freight and local traffic.

In speaking with Trains, Jackson said the KRR is actively seeking to increase the local freight business.

Using trackage rights, KRR trains terminate at Watkins Yard on NS in Columbus.

KRR Now Operating in Ohio

August 23, 2016

The entire former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern is now back in operation.

Kanawha River RailroadThe Kanawha River Railroad is now operating loaded coal trains between West Virginia and Columbus, where they are handed off to Norfolk Southern for forwarding to Sandusky.

The first of those trains operated on Monday and was the first time that most of the West Virginia Secondary had seen a train since NS mothballed it last February.

Trains magazine reported that the first unit coal train had two NS locomotives and two SD60s leased by NS to the KRR, which is a property of Watco Companies.

KRR plans to restore shipping chemicals by rail within the next few weeks.

Watco Hits Snag in Reopening W.Va. Secondary

August 11, 2016

Resuming operations on the West Virginia Secondary in Ohio by the Kanawha River Railroad is being delayed as it awaits a ruling from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

The issue is the failure of the STB to publish a complete description of the authority of the KRR to operate over 9.2 miles of CSX-owned track.

WatcoThe CSX portion of the West Virginia Secondary extends from Hobson Yard in Langsville, Ohio, to Conco, which is located on the Ohio side of the Ohio River bridge.

An attorney representing Watco Companies, which owns the KRR, said the trackage rights on CSX were excluded from the copy of the filing submitted to the STB by Watco and Norfolk Southern, which owned the West Virginia Secondary, and published in the Federal Register.

The attorney said the trackage rights were implied in the filing and the STB has not explicitly ruled them out.

However, CSX won’t allow the KRR to exercise the trackage rights until the STB states that they are included in the transfer of operating authority from NS to Watco. The STB is expected to provide that clarification soon.

Watco took over most of the 298-mile West Virginia Secondary from NS and has been operating the route in West Virginia since July 31.

Until taking the line out of service earlier this year, NS had been providing local service on the route. The filing with the STB indicated that NS saw coal traffic on the West Virginia Secondary decline by 57 percent between 2011 and 2014.

Kanawha River Railroad Begins Operations

August 4, 2016

The Kanawha River Railroad is out and running.

The Watco Companies subsidiary began operating 308 miles, which includes the former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern, on July 31.

WatcoKRR plans to run trains over former NS track between Columbus and Mullens, West Virginia. Much of that traffic will be chemicals and coal.

Operations are based at Dickinson Yard near Charleston, West Virginia.

Trains magazine reported that on the first day of operation three crews reported to work at Dickinson, two of which worked in the yard while a third took a loaded coal train to Elmore Yard on the former Virginian mainline.

Light power moved north to Point Pleasant, Ohio, to pick up interchange cars from CSX and a local switched customers along the Kanawha River north of Charleston.

The magazine noted that traffic on the former NS territory was unusually busy for a Sunday and that might become a regular occurrence.

KRR officials have said their objective is to “bring life back to the railroad industry” in the West Virginia-Ohio region by building up freight business and increasing carloads.

The West Virginia Secondary within Ohio is expected to reopen in the coming weeks after NS idled it last Friday and shifted traffic to other routes.

For now, KRR will be operating six days a week with most trains originating and terminating in Dickinson Yard.

The last NS train from Dickinson Yard left on July 30. It had 50 cars and a caboose that had been used for work train service.

NS continues to run trains south and east of Elmore Yard and handles local mine runs on the Winding Gulf Branch near Mullens and all trains operating toward Gilbert Yard.

Watco has assigned to the KRR four and six-axle EMD GP and SD-type locomotives while leasing seven EMD SD60s from NS for coal train service.